Memory & Cognition

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 865–876

Unfamiliar faces are not faces: Evidence from a matching task


DOI: 10.3758/BF03193433

Cite this article as:
Megreya, A.M. & Burton, A.M. Memory & Cognition (2006) 34: 865. doi:10.3758/BF03193433


It is difficult to match two images of the same unfamiliar face, even under good conditions. Here, we show that there are large individual differences on unfamiliar face matching. Initially, we tried to predict these using tests of visual short-term memory, cognitive style, and perceptual speed. Moderate correlations were produced by various components of these tests. In three other experiments, we found very strong correlations between face matching and inverted face matching on the same test. Finally, we examined potential associations between familiar and unfamiliar face processing. Strong correlations were found between familiar and unfamiliar face processing, but only when the familiar faces were inverted. We conclude that unfamiliar faces are processed for identity in a qualitatively different way than are familiar faces.

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© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowScotland